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Terms and Definitions

# A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
There are 26 names in this directory beginning with the letter E.
Easement
A right, created by an express or implied agreement, to make lawful and beneficial use of the land of another. Such use must not be inconsistent with any other uses already being made of the land.
Embezzlement
Fraudulent appropriation for one's own use of property lawfully in his or her possession, a type of larceny that did not exist in common law because it does not involve a trespassory taking; thus, it is a crime created by statute. Embezzlement is often associated with bank employees, public officials or officers of organizations, who may in the course of their lawful activities come into possession of property, such as money, actually owned by others.
Eminent Domain
The inherent right of the state to take private property for public use without the individual property owner's consent. Just compensation must be paid to the property owner.
Enjoin
To command or instruct with authority; to suspend or restrain. One may be enjoined or commanded by a court either to do a specific act or to refrain from doing a certain act.
Entrapment
In criminal law, an affirmative defense created either by statute or by court decision in the given jurisdiction that excuses a defendant from criminal liability for crimes induced by trickery on the part of law enforcement officers or other agents of the government.
Equal Opportunity
A term to signify an employer's adoption of employment practices that do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex or national origin. Such discrimination was outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
Equal Protection Of The Laws
Constitutional guarantee embodied in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which states in relevant part that "No State shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." The essential purpose of this constitutional doctrine is to ensure that the laws and the government treat all persons alike, unless there is some substantial reason why certain persons or classes of persons should be treated differently.
Equal Rights Amentment (E.R.A.)
A proposed amendment hoping to eliminate sex as a basis for any decisions made by a state of the United States. This amendment was never ratified by a sufficient number of states to qualify as a constitutional amendment, but the basic premise underlying the proposal has become an accepted standard in many statutes and court decisions.
Equitable Distribution
A just division of property among interested parties; the process by which, as part of a dissolution of marriage proceeding under a no-fault divorce statute, the court apportions between husband and wife all assets acquired by either or both of them, whether owned jointly or individually, during the marriage.
Equity
Generally, justice of fairness. Historically, equity refers to a separate body of law developed in England in reaction to the inability of the common law courts, in their strict adherence to rigid writs and forms of action, to consider or provide a remedy for every injury. The king therefor established the court of chancery to do justice between parties in cases where the common law would give inadequate redress. The principle of this jurisprudence is that equity will find a way to achieve a lawful result when legal jurisdictions, though equity jurisprudence and equitable doctrines are still independently viable.
Escrow
A written instrument, such as a deed, temporarily deposited with a neutral third party (escrow agent), by the agreement of two parties to a valid contract. The escrow agent will deliver the document to the benefited party when the conditions of the contract have been met. The depositor has no control over the instrument in escrow.
Estate
Technically, the nature and extent of a person's interest in or ownership of land; broadly, estate applies to all that a person owns whether real or personal property.
Evidence
All the means by which any alleged matter of fact, the truth of which is submitted to investigation at judicial trial, is established or disproved. Evidence includes the testimony of witnesses, introduction of records, documents, exhibits, or any other relevant matter offered for the purpose of including the trier of fact's belief in the party's contention.
Ex Parte
By or for a single party; done for, in behalf of, or on the application of one party only, as distinguished from an adversary (contested) proceeding.
Ex Post Facto
Latin term meaning " after the fact." Rules especially to a law that makes punishable as a crime an act done before the passing of the law and that was innocent when done. An ex post facto law is also one that makes a crime more serious than when it was committed, inflicts a greater punishment, or alters legal rules of evidence to require less or different testimony to convict than the law required when the crime was committed. Such laws violate provisions of the Constitution of the United States, which provide that neither Congress nor state shall pass an ex post facto law.
Exclusionary Rule
A constitutional rule of law that provides that otherwise admissible evidence may not be used in a criminal trial if it was obtained as a result of illegal police conduct.
Execute
To complete, as a legal instrument; to perform what is required; to give validity to, as by signing and perhaps sealing and delivering. For example, a contract is executed when all acts necessary to complete it and to give it validity as an instrument are carried out, including signing and delivery.
Executive Clemency
The power constitutionally reposed in the president, and by most state constitutions, in the governor, to pardon or commute (i.e., reduce) the sentence of one convicted by a court within his or her jurisdiction. Compare Reprieve
Executor (Or Executrix)
A person who either expressly or by implication is appointed by a testator (one who dies leaving a will) to carry out a testator's directions concerning the dispositions made under the will. When the appointee is a woman, she is the executrix.
Exhibit
Any document or object introduced as evidence in court.
Expert Witness
A witness having special knowledge, skill or experience in the subject about which he or she is to testify.
Expropriation
The taking of private property for public purpose upon the payment of just compensation, which is recognized as an inherent power of the state over its citizens.
Extenuating Circumstances
Unusual factors tending to contribute to the consummation of an illegal act, but over which the actor had little or no control. These factors therefore reduce the responsibility of the actor and serve to mitigate punishment or payment of damages.
Extortion
In common law, the corrupt collection by a public official of an excessive or unauthorized fee; punishable as a misdemeanor. Under modern society the offense includes illegal taking of money by anyone who employs threats, or other illegal use of fear to coercion, to obtain money, and whose conduct falls short of the threat to personal safety required for robbery. Extortion is used interchangeably with blackmail and is commonly punished as a felony.
Extradition
The surrender by one state to another of an accused or convicted person. A state's chief executive has the right to demand from the asylum state the return of a person who was accused of a crime based upon sanctuary in another state. It enables the state in which the offense occurred to swiftly bring the offender to trial.
Eyewitness
A person who can testify as to what he or she has experienced by his or her presence at an event.